Four generations of Clay Friend’s family celebrated Veterans Day at Boise’s Rolling Hills charter school on Monday morning.
Clay’s great-grandchildren sang songs and read speeches to dozens of veterans in attendance. His daughters and granddaughter, staff at the school, helped run the show, ushering 250 students to their seats and directing them through the event.
Clay, a 91-year-old Navy veteran, looked on with his wife Nancy, and studied a “wall of honor” erected in the school gym. Daughter Joy Conn pointed out pictures of relatives, including a smiling, black-and-white mug of Clay, who served circa 1946.
“I cry every year,” said Conn, business manger at Rolling Hills, of the event. Having the event to commemorate military members, when her father and husband and 8-10 other family members have served, is “huge” she said.
This is the sixth year Rolling Hills has gone all-out with a large Veterans Day celebration. According to Idaho code, all schools in session on Veterans day must spend at least one class period “honoring American veterans.”
Inspired partly by a trip to Europe, where he was reminded of the staggering number of U.S. soldiers who never returned from tours overseas, administrator Shane Pratt decided to “up the ante” of the Veterans Day Celebration at Rolling Hills, inviting veterans to participate and giving kids a chance to say thanks.
“The fact that there were so many soldiers that never made it back home impressed on me that I needed to do more, as a citizen of the U.S., and as an administrator, to teach others,” Pratt said.
Marietha Sutterfield said the annual assembly is one of her 9-year-old son’s favorite parts of the school year — and one of the things her family likes best about Rolling Hills.
She wiped tears from her eyes, Monday, after the 25th Army band bugler performed Taps, a bugle call performed at funerals and ceremonies.
It reminded Sutterfield of her great grandfather, a WWII Air Force Veteran, and one of the reasons she attends the Veterans Day ceremony at her son’s school.
“This is just my way of remembering him, and my family,” she said.